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Old 01-17-2009, 11:40 AM   #21
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During the past week we started our bigger car twice a day and let it run about 15 minutes each time--because we were not driving it otherwise and we wanted to keep the battery (only a month old) charged. Now I'm wondering if this was wrong in terms of the battery?

Also, why do trucks at rest-stops on the Interstate keep their engines running for hours at a time (I assume there are different economics/mechanical systems at work for these big guys)?
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Old 01-17-2009, 11:54 AM   #22
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Diesels like those big ones in the trucks are a different story. They can run longer, but it is still a big waste of fuel to leave them running all day/night not in use.
Our old diesel sedan takes a long time to warm up as well.
And the tranny in my old gasoline 1984 pickup truck is so bad, that if you want to go in reverse, you'd better plan on waiting at least 5 minutes after cranking!
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:00 PM   #23
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When semis in truck stops are running for hours it is usually so the driver, who is often sleeping, can have heat or air conditioning.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:24 PM   #24
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Article in the Houston paper about three years ago about not going out in the morning and warming up your car. Thieves wait in the neighborhood for someone to do this and then drive the car away.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:42 PM   #25
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I remember Alaska in the 70's. We had a post in front of every parking place and you plugged in your car. You used either a dip stick heater or a pan heater. I had a VW Bus at the time (pan heater mounted under the engine), had to park head in, and make sure I put it into reverse before getting out or it would take about a half hour before you could shift the transmission into reverse. Also had to use a gasoline heater mounted under the rear seat. And this was Anchorage, Alaska (Central to Northern Minnesota like temperatures), up in Fairbanks they left vehicles running almost all the time (-50 will do that). Of course back then we were paying about $.30 cents a gallon for MOGAS.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:44 PM   #26
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I always turn my engine off when waiting in the drive thru line at bank and such. I have noticed UPS shuts their engines off when making deliveries. I bet they replace a lot of starters. However, I have read that a good bit of engine wear comes in the first minute or so after starting the engine. After the engine is up and running-very little wear. It's just the starts that are hard on an engine. Any mechanics out there?
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:55 PM   #27
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I always turn my engine off when waiting in the drive thru line at bank and such. I have noticed UPS shuts their engines off when making deliveries. I bet they replace a lot of starters. However, I have read that a good bit of engine wear comes in the first minute or so after starting the engine. After the engine is up and running-very little wear. It's just the starts that are hard on an engine. Any mechanics out there?
Myth #3: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running.
Reality: Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. The bottom line is that more than ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.

People who have driven with me in my Prius ask the same question. (The engine shuts off within seconds of coming to a stop). A taxi firm in San Francisco has been running a fleet of Prius for a number of years and they replace them every 300,000 miles.
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:00 AM   #28
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I always turn my engine off when waiting in the drive thru line at bank and such. I have noticed UPS shuts their engines off when making deliveries. I bet they replace a lot of starters. However, I have read that a good bit of engine wear comes in the first minute or so after starting the engine. After the engine is up and running-very little wear. It's just the starts that are hard on an engine. Any mechanics out there?
The reason the first few seconds is hard on your engine is from lack of oil. If your just shutting it off for a few seconds/minutes all of the oil doesn't have the chance to drain back to the oil pan.
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:12 AM   #29
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In Germany it's against the law to leave your car idling - even with you in it. I think that's a great idea, it's stupid waste.
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:49 AM   #30
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Sweden too.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:18 AM   #31
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Minneapolis has a vehicle idling ordinance that limits most vehicles to 3 minutes idling. Anti-Idling Vehicle Ordinance Link
Main Reason: Cleaner air

There are exceptions to the three minute idling restriction:
1. Vehicles may idle when stopped in traffic.
2. Police, fire, ambulance, public safety vehicles may remain running to operate lights, circulate water in tanks maintain accessories needed during emergency/enforcement activities.
3. Police K9 or Animal Control vehicles may remain running to maintain a safe climate for animals.
4. City vehicles may remain running at job sites during inclement weather if a supervisor grants authorization.
5. Idling is allowed to diagnose repair needs.
6. Idling is allowed if needed to operate defrosters, heaters or air conditioners to prevent a safety or health emergency.
7. Vehicles may idle up to 15 minutes in a one hour period if the outside air temperature is less than zero degrees or higher than 90 degrees.
8. Vehicles may idle if the engine must be running to operate work-related mechanical operations (e.g., operating lifts, processing cargo, etc.).
9. Cabs may idle for up to 15 minutes in a one hour period to maintain comfort of paying passengers.
10. Police vehicles may idle for more than 3 minutes while getting coffee and donuts.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:58 AM   #32
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Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor.
I'm having a little trouble buying that. Auto components are designed as cheaply as possible to give a reasonable life expectancy. It would be a waste to over-design them. If you exceed the design goal, you should expect that on average you will have wear out. That design goal may take into account a fair number of starts though, I've only replaced one starter in any car that wasn't an old junker. That one was exciting though - apparently the gear got stuck and the thing spun and overheated itself to death as the engine was running and forcing the starter to spin at high speeds (wife was driving at the time, I probably would have noticed the noise sooner, but I'm sure the damage was already done). Repair guy said he never saw that before!

Quote:
People who have driven with me in my Prius ask the same question. (The engine shuts off within seconds of coming to a stop). A taxi firm in San Francisco has been running a fleet of Prius for a number of years and they replace them every 300,000 miles.
The Prius is designed for this from the get-go, and the starter mechanism is not comparable to a standard vehicle.

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10. Police vehicles may idle for more than 3 minutes while getting coffee and donuts.
So, if they stop for just coffee, or just donuts, they need to write themselves a ticket (or turn off the engine)?

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Old 01-18-2009, 12:11 PM   #33
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OP I am sure #10 is a joke, right? I thought the Fire Department people did the same thing with those big units.
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:14 PM   #34
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I'm having a little trouble buying that. Auto components are designed as cheaply as possible to give a reasonable life expectancy. It would be a waste to over-design them. If you exceed the design goal, you should expect that on average you will have wear out. That design goal may take into account a fair number of starts though, I've only replaced one starter in any car that wasn't an old junker. That one was exciting though - apparently the gear got stuck and the thing spun and overheated itself to death as the engine was running and forcing the starter to spin at high speeds (wife was driving at the time, I probably would have noticed the noise sooner, but I'm sure the damage was already done). Repair guy said he never saw that before!
I also have a little trouble with this concept but I put a lot of faith in the Car Talk guys (who advocate turning off your engine when stopped for a minute or more) plus I have only ever had to replace one starter motor and that was back in the 70's. I keep cars for a long time and do practice turning off the engine when stopped for a minute or more so I am now a believer that the wear and tear is minimal.

I agree that on the Prius, a traditional starter is not used but that doesn't stop the questions about stopping and starting a LARGE number of times with other engine wear. It does use synthetic low viscosity oil to get over the issue of lubrication at start-up (5/30 I think)
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:36 PM   #35
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In Germany it's against the law to leave your car idling - even with you in it. I think that's a great idea, it's stupid waste.
It's waste of a commodity that is owned by the person wasting it. I've no objection to that. If we (as a society) want people to pay the true costs of burning petroleum (political, environmental, etc) , we should have a gasoline tax that includes these costs. Writing laws that pinpoint-target certain uses as "acceptable" and other uses as "unacceptable" is not the way to solve the problem. Why should it be okay for a single driver in Hummer to burn 20 gallons in a day driving to the mall, while the guy driving the 40 MPG econobox has to shut off his motor rather burn a thimble full of gas idling the car so he can run the heater when it is -10 deg outside?
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:51 PM   #36
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These are the things I've seen:

Guy pulls in to campground office to get out and ask about campsites. His car is running the during the entire 15 minutes he waits in line and talks.

Woman leaves her car idling while she goes into an ice cream shop, waits in line and buys ice cream.

Guy stops to talk with neighbor through the window before pulling into his driveway. Talks for 20 minutes with engine idling.

Long line of cars waiting by the flagman during road construction. Five minute wait, all cars idling entire time.

So what are these people thinking? My guess is that most are just ignorant. Perhaps some are too lazy to turn the key??

Did I say "global warming?" I meant "climate change."
People don't seem run unattended cars around here and it is illegal here as well.

We used to live on a sandbar/island where there was a lift bridge to get into town. Often the bridge would be up for ship traffic and it might take a fair number of minutes before it was down again. People always turned off their cars. (Dead of winter, no matter, no shipping).
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:58 PM   #37
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It's waste of a commodity that is owned by the person wasting it. I've no objection to that. If we (as a society) want people to pay the true costs of burning petroleum (political, environmental, etc) , we should have a gasoline tax that includes these costs. Writing laws that pinpoint-target certain uses as "acceptable" and other uses as "unacceptable" is not the way to solve the problem. Why should it be okay for a single driver in Hummer to burn 20 gallons in a day driving to the mall, while the guy driving the 40 MPG econobox has to shut off his motor rather burn a thimble full of gas idling the car so he can run the heater when it is -10 deg outside?
Damn you for injecting rational thought into a perfectly good thread on micromanaging! I bet you're one a them bleedin' libertarian anarchist types.
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:15 PM   #38
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One good answer to reduce fuel use from idling and to improve traffic flow is the use of traffic circles instead of traffic lights. Studies show that people get to their destinations faster and there are fewer collisions (and far fewer collisions with injuries) with traffic circles than with traffic lights.

The only "gotchas'" I can think of are the much larger amount of real estate these things take up (they are very hard to put in to established cities) and the difficulty in getting pedestrians across the roadways when the cars never stop. I guess you use bridges, tunnels, or crosswalks in the middle of the block.

And harley: I'm guilty as charged!
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Old 01-18-2009, 09:47 PM   #39
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One good answer to reduce fuel use from idling and to improve traffic flow is the use of traffic circles instead of traffic lights. Studies show that people get to their destinations faster and there are fewer collisions (and far fewer collisions with injuries) with traffic circles than with traffic lights.

The only "gotchas'" I can think of are the much larger amount of real estate these things take up (they are very hard to put in to established cities) and the difficulty in getting pedestrians across the roadways when the cars never stop. I guess you use bridges, tunnels, or crosswalks in the middle of the block.
Agreed.

The UK uses traffic circles extensively and there is no extra real estate required for the vast majority of junctions. The Circle can be simply painted on the road where needed.

The pedestrian problem is solved by PEdestrian LIight CONtrolled crossings called PELICONs. They look just like a regular traffic light but they are always green unless a pedestrian presses the button to request a crossing and are used away from junctions.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:19 AM   #40
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We have several Traffic Circles here in Dublin, Ohio, and they do have a lot less accidents and the accidents that do happen are side hits, no head on, T bones and very few rear end ones. There are about a half dozen now with more in the process of getting built and several others in the planning stage. They are expensive and disruptive to build but, if the goal is safety, they seem to be worth it.
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